The incremental slide of the brilliant desert Sun approached the edge of sight above the still lingering presence of Warren Williams and the restless robot of his corpse that was tirelessly staggering forth in the general direction of North. The former physical embodiment of the two was now to be found trudging about a tenth of a mile off what appeared to be a paved road running from one hard carved mountain range to another. The conundrum of which incident of recent outrage upon which to anchor the motivation upon had drifted back to his own untimely murder from the petty robbery of his wallet. Though any readiness to travel upon man-made pavement at this point had been diminished by the encounters of fast paced motorized traffic that seemed oblivious to any other kind of life, or in Warren’s case the enigmatic absence of it. It seemed more prudent to use it more for guidance than as a means of conveyance. It was plain that the badge shaped road signs now officially proclaimed “Mexico 5” on the accompanying highway. The passing whining of occasional traffic from that asphalt ribbon resounded from time to time at distant intervals restating mankind’s latent presence in this otherwise inhospitable universe. Warren’s entity felt properly at home and was beginning to drift into what he had formerly and very occasionally known as idle contemplation.
What indeed had occurred just previous to have left him in such a far removed place out in the middle of nowhere so far south of that last rendezvous in Brawley? If the road just West was in Mexico as the sign proclaimed he could not fathom the conveyance that had transported him dead or living so far from that original point of departure. Was it that old biker who was responsible for what had obviously been a prearranged trap to rid the planet of him? He couldn’t recall the man violently accosting him so that there must have been another. But if so, who was he? How had the whole business gone down? And who was he working for? One would think that a disembodied spirit would know such information? It was plain that he would have to find the Biker and before killing him would need to get the rest of the information from him before any final murderous transactions could be finalized. The thought contemplated was of a massive scale floating somewhere out in the hinterland of the universe where one dish being significantly lower than its companion on the other end of a celestial beam sought conclusive equanimity with the other. How one could figure the forces of gravity in such a remote region to drive the process was of course anybodies guess and certainly not his concern. Then there was the amount of damage that had been visited upon his own life challenged incessant marionette. The bullet holes int he abdomen and the absent portion of his face did not seem to pose any obstacles to the animation of the body. The desiccation of his fluids by the baking of the Sun had hardened both flesh and sinews tightly upon the armature of bones. The absolute dryness of same being mainly responsible for the ridiculously persistent stagger that the lifeless body rhythmically portrayed when in normal locomotion. Having been impacted by an SUV had not helped the overall structure of his life challenged conveyance but had made the obviousness of its inherent physical limitations more pronounced. Who had dreamed up the ruling phenomena to begin with was beyond his immediate grasp.
The horizon far beyond to the left had begun to shift to warmer hues of oranges and seemed to reveal the shadowy silhouettes of an ant-like caravan composed of a slow moving column of apparitions similar to the outline of men both mounted and on foot. The occasional far off glint of steel occasionally reflecting from the curve of metal helmets and armored cuirass. So lost in his own thoughts and distracted by this conflicting calvacade was the disassociated amalgam of Warren Williams that he failed to notice another spectral figure closely pacing along with him in slow approach from the starboard quadrant of that incessantly whining road to the East. All his own contemplation ceased with a glance at the tall lean blackened spindly torso accoutered in an outfit that could only have been imagined by some European artist of four hundred years previous. A collection of multi-colored garments and accessories that in the modern lexicon of fashion might have loosely been termed pirate attire with its mostly insubstantial skeletal armature supporting skirt-like tattered pantaloons, vest over the shreds of a shirt with flowing sleeves and supporting the remnants of a sword counterposed by a diagonal shoulder to hip support. The face was mostly covered with a decrepit nearly formless wide brimmed hat but still provided enough windage to easily reveal the fact of a blackened skull the surface of which hard the texture of book leather serving as a head. The shock of amazement by William’s entity at the appearance of this other rival animate corpse came from the realization that he was not the only one who shared this insoluble dilemma of being caught betwixt the inherent fatal vulnerability of life and the ultimate finality of death. The words that subsequently transpired between them were not uttered aloud by death transfigured flesh, yet portrayed the fact of the difference of time, culture and space.
“Halloo fellow wanderer”, said the cadaver, “I am the sad remnants of the once magnificent earthly form of Senor Esteban de Dorantes Estebanico. once a child of the Mediterranean coast but long tasked by their majesties of Spain to explore the vastness of the New World the dust of which now covers us both.” “You may call me Estevanico”
So dumbstruck was William that he and his earthly residue stopped short frozen in mid stride. The rusty hinge of his ravaged jaw twitched in sympathy with his projected words, “What?”
“Forgive my unannounced intrusion as it seems that you are still obviously new to this.”, said Estevanico who now stood directly before him. The eyeless skull took in William’s battered remains with a studied glance. “You also have been sent here by the violence of the living”
William’s entity now re-balanced now replied, “We both don’t seem to be from around here, either of us?” “Are you one of those guys?“, William’s own much depreciated physical visage turning back toward the parade.
The corpse opposite him turned its torso in sympathy towards the horizon. It tossed its shoulders in a manner that suggested indifference and then it’s own entity conveyed accompanying words. “They are the men of that lying friar, Marcos de Niza.” “It seems that they have lost their way on their quest” The corpse of Estevanico extendng the bony appendage of his arm from amidst the torn sailcloth of his shirt’s sleeve. “They are much too far West to find their way to the treasures of the Indio’s.”
“Coronado?”, William’s own corpse mouthed spontaneously.
“No senor”, replied the other entity with what could be counted in the world of the living as a grin. “The Teyes kept him turned around and that fool never found his way past the pueblos.”
William’s focused its attention towards the restless figures continued is a restless form of Brownian motion inching across the horizon before the descending Sun.
“There is nothing like the eternal quest for gold to keep a man’s spirits up in both life and its absence”, offered the wistfully silent tongue of Estevanico after a long pause. The corpse then turning unceremoniously away to continue its restless travel to scout the terrain angling off the other direction from occasional sets of headlights searching the equally meandering concrete ribbon far behind.